Good day bloggers,

I thought I’d take a look this week at the vexed issues of graduate employment and growth in the UK economy. I recently blogged (see, ‘The Graduate’) about the increasing difficulty university graduates experience in obtaining employment once they complete their university studies.

Employment trends (reported by the Association of Graduate Recruitment) reveal an increasing ratio of graduates competing for jobs – rising to 70:1 in 2010. Add to that increasing unemployment amongst the age group 16-24 (at an all time high) according to data from the Office for National Statistics, with graduate jobless figures hitting a record high two weeks ago. Then throw in a lack of growth in new jobs revealed by research from recruiters Hays and (see blog post ‘Churn…but where’s the cream gone’) and it’s not looking like a great time to be young and seeking work.

I know – this all sounds very gloomy. But…there are some ‘small’ signs of the pall lifting.

“So how will it happen?” I hear you ask. Well Kingston University(in tandem with Barclays Business) has completed its own recent research study. The study asked small, medium, enterprise (SME’s) owners about their preparedness to recruit university graduates. Contrary to common perception, the SME’s confirmed that business orders are increasing and also showed a willingness to employ graduates. The challenge, according to the research author, Tom Wainwrightfrom Kingston University, is for graduates to consider working for small organisations as traditionally they have been attracted to work for the ‘big names’. the study concluded the SME’s will provide the biggest growth opportunities for graduates over the next twelve months; whereas larger organisations are not looking to increase headcount.

Of course in public sector large organisations we’re likely to lose considerable headcount (at least 500,000 according to the CIPD) and there will be a significant challenge not just to employ university graduates (although I believe this should be on our transformation and workforce remodelling agendas) but also to work with the private and third sectors to ensure employees have transferable skills to avoid the prospect of years of unemployment. What do you think?